The Defense Department is taking $1.5 billion from what officials there are calling lower-priority programs and redirecting it toward projects aimed at securing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Pentagon budget document.The shift brings to $2.5 billion the amount of defense money diverted to date for the border wall project, with up to $3.6 billion more to come from military construction projects under President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration issued in January.
The latest $1.5 billion budget maneuver was detailed in a Thursday Defense Department reprogramming request obtained by CQ Roll Call. The money would be moved into the Pentagon’s counter-drug account; Trump can use existing statutory authority to take that money, but it’s short on funds and therefore needs a cash infusion first.
The money is needed, the document says, for “higher priority items based on unforeseen military requirements” — including fencing, roads and lighting — and is “necessary in the national interest.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the move Friday and said the money would be used to build some 80 miles of border wall.